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Rod & Gun News – 4/5/2024

By Christine Patton

How to Cook a Wahoo?

Unlike so many households in Ocean Reef who have anglers bring home dinner, the flats fisherman doesn’t get much practice cooking fish. When we recently had a visitor, who was eager to catch anything with scales, it gave rise to lengthy discussions of not only how to lure and land the fish but also how to prepare and enjoy them. It occurred to me that there are as many ways to cook a fish as there are ways to catch it…

Fresh fish is so good all by itself that you don’t need to do much to make it edible. With a sheet pan and a 400-degree oven, you can handle just about any fish. What varies is the flavoring that you use to primarily keep the fish moist while it’s cooking, but also to give a little extra something to sop up with bread, rice, or potatoes.

One approach is to coat the fish in a creamy coating based on mayonnaise, mixed with a variety of flavorings. Add honey mustard, thyme and red wine vinegar for a Provencal touch. Or add chili sauce, lemon juice, and capers for a spicy taste. Look at those little bottles of condiment that collect in your refrigerator and experiment — barbeque sauce! pickled olives! peach jam? Mix up your concoction and smear it on the skinless side after salt and peppering the fish. Or take an oil-based approach, where the fish is placed in a shallow pool of briny, gingery oil, layered with lemon slices, olives, capers, and grated ginger on top (or anchovies and garlic, or whatever inspires). Alternatively, go in the coconut milk, ginger, turmeric, soy and garlic direction, making a bright-tasting Asian-style marinade.

I know these instructions are vague, but believe me, you can’t go wrong with any mix that has some fat, some acid, sweet, and hot spice flavorings. Throw in a handful of cherry tomatoes, pieces of scallions, or parboiled cauliflower-ettes, or anything that you like that will cook (or finish cooking) in the same time as the fish. 

Bake until barely done — 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut. Whole fish take longer than those cut into portions. The fish will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven, so err on the underdone side — you can always put it back in the oven for another two minutes! The signs of “doneness” are when the juices leaking out are opaque white, and a touch reveals a solidarity in the flesh.

Don’t forget to garnish your fish after cooking — a sprinkling of fresh herbs, just some parsley or dill, or a mix with mint and chives or anything green — or a crunch of toasted bread crumbs or chopped walnuts will add texture and finish. Serve with the rice or bread that will help soak up those flavorful juices, maybe a green salad and a glass of Sancerre…